By Jaye Gaskia
It has been about six months since the first explainer which was focused on the Labour Party, Peter Obi and the then incipient Obidient movement.
However, this second explainer has a much wider focus, it is an overview of the current state of the race, and the lot of the working people with respect to the race and its eventual outcome.
The focus on the Labour Party was necessary and informed by the fact that impostors, a lose network of political refugees, displaced from their respective political parties, were trooping into the Labour Party, as their place of refuge, and sanctuary of their self ennobling ambitions; who were usurping the name of our movement – the Labour Movement, and spinning the yarn that having had their spurious epiphanic moment on the road to thoroughly losing out in the primaries of their actual political parties, they were now born again friends of the working class, and new converts to the cause of the toiling masses. This deliberate myth being spurned by this accomplished political scammers and their more or less starryeyed enablers had to be brutally confronted and shown for what it is – a deliberately perpetrated falsehood aimed at deceiving the masses as they attempt to hitch a ride on the back of the working people to power.
And what has changed since the publication of the first explainer? Absolutely nothing. If anything, in fact all the trends identified and pointed out have now become more obvious, and have become consolidated over the space of six months.
Given the consolidation of all the earlier identified trends, one can say with a very high degree of certainty, and paraphrasing Sturgeon, the Scottish First Minister, as the news first broke that Liz Truss had won the Conservative leadership contest and had become the prime minister designate “if she governs the way she campaigned, it shall be a disaster”. She turned out to be right. Liz Truss’ administration was not only the shortest in living memory – not even up to 2 months, it was also a monumental disaster as the economy went into a tailspin and leading capitalists and capitalist corporations panicked and took flight.
We can say with certainty that in the very unlikely event of Peter Obi winning the 2023 general elections, if he should govern the way he has been campaigning, and if the Obidient movement were to continue to behave post election victory as they are behaving before the election, it would be a disaster of unprecedented scale for the country in general, and for the working people and toiling masses in particular. Why? Because it will be characterized by the assumed omnipotence, omniscient, and infallibility of Peter Obi; as well as infused with the implacable intolerance surrounding a messianic cult of the leader. If this so-called movement can be this dismissive, disdainful, and intolerant of dissent and opposition, now during the campaigns, just imagine what the situation would be like, in power! It will be a brazen attempt at a hack back to the Authoritarian Abacha dictatorship – only this time it will be a trajedy as in the words of Karl Marx, history repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.
And why is this prospect couched as an unlikely event? Because this is an analysis, not a prophecy. He is not going to win the election, given the current configuration of forces and alignment of social formations. But because an analysis is based on the observation and interpretation of trends and processes, and not on divine certainty of a prophetic declaration, there is a chance, however unlikely that chance is.
Now, let’s get back to the lot of the people and the current state of the race. To be clear, there is no option for the masses on the ballot in the current race; and the only alternative for the masses – Socialism and the quest for Socialist Transformation, is not on the ballot. Why is this so? Because all the major political parties and presidential candidates (in particular, the APC, PDP, LP and NNPP, etc) in their campaign trail pronouncements, as well as in their respective manifestos for the current election, and blatant disregard for provisions of chapter two of the current constitution, have all reaffirmed their fidelity to neo-liberalism, and commitment to private sector dominated economy, including the privatisation of publicly owned corporations, enterprises and utilities; where the private sector is the engine of growth, and the the provision of basic social services and infrastructure will be private sector led. Under this vision, the rich will get richer and the poor will grow poorer.
None of them have told us anything in concrete terms about how they intend to deal with the rising cost of living crisis, and in particular with interminably rising energy costs – the rising prices of fuel, electricity tariff and gas. For instance in fidelity to their private sector led development model, which breeds deep inequality and mass misery, their solution to the current crisis of inaccessible, unavailable, and unaffordable energy costs is to deepen the privatisation of public utilities – Power Transmission assets, as well as the refineries, while continuing to provide public resources to support the private sector to run privatised properties and make huge private profits.
No one, none of the candidates and their political parties have outlined any convincing plan about how they will tackle insecurity, reduce poverty, reduce unemployment, and increase and improve access to basic services in health, education, public housing, public transport, public communications, etc, beyond platitudes and slogans. To tackle poverty for instance, an important part of the problem will be a mechanism for wealth redistribution in society; to tackle unemployment, address poverty, increase access to basic services, a massive public works program that is underlaid by unprecedented scale of public investment, and with the objective of addressing issues of universal access to basic social services, one that is free of user cost from the point of access, etc; will be required.
We can also discern whose interests will be projected and protected, and whose interests will be trampled upon, by the way and manner they have been running their campaigns. Who are they visiting? Where are the places they have gone to? With whom are they holding consultations? Who are they specially engaging in their strings of well structured Town Hall engagements? They visit traditional rulers, heavyweight politicians, former rulers of the country (some of whom presided over military dictatorships, and all of whom presided over the bastardisation of our lives and the organised scientific looting of our commonwealth). They organise strategic consultations, town hall meetings, and engagements with business leaders, big business and the wealthy. They fly out of the country to consult with the capitalist ruling classes of leading capitalists countries, their ruling class peers; trying to conciliate and reassure these imperialist agents. And where, how, and when do they meet with us, working people and toiling masses, the people they want to govern? In mass rallies, where they talk down to us, and whip us up into frenzied and uncritical support for their ambitions, while at same time overtly or covertly sowing seeds of discord among us by playing up primordial grievances based on ethnic, religious, ethnoreligious, and or geographical differences and existing cleavages. At these rallies we are unable to ask them real critical questions. Yet, at their strategic town hall meetings and behind the scenes consultations with pillars of the capitalist ruling class, and representatives of critical segments of the capitalism system, they are subjected to questions, and make a point of directly responding to, addressing and allaying the fears of capitalists and their peers; whether it is during a town hall with business leaders, or at Chatham House! The disdain with which they treat us is so obvious. Which of them have come to meet us in our workplaces, engaged directly with us, listened to us, taken and responded directly to questions from us?
And while a majority of the candidates and their parties have proposed variants of so-called restructuring as panacea to all our problems, including the decentralisation and devolution of policing to address insecurity and crime; none has outlined any concrete step by step plan of how these might be achieved. More importantly, none has been bold enough to address the question of universal citizenship based on residency. Will recruitment into and management of the decentralized and devolved policing authorities be based on indigenship or residency, therefore citizenship? Would we carry over the privileging of state of origin over state of residence into the newly restructured Nigeria?
Socialism is the Alternative that is not on the ballot; why? Why is this so? Because even those among the candidates and the political parties, who have made reference to reversing privatisation through renationalisation of privatised entities, and talked about the commanding heights of the economy being in public hands, have not given any concrete plans as to the steps they might take to achieve these lofty goals. And even beyond this, they seem to all uniformly conflate nationalisation with socialisation, and equate state or public ownership of the means of production with socialism. But is this correct? Under socialism, the state is simply the mechanism for holding in trust ownership, control and management of the economy, on behalf of the working people and toiling masses.
The implication of the above is that the state itself must be a workers democratic state, that is a state based on workers democracy, and that state ownership of the major means of production (commanding heights of the economy) must be accompanied by workers and working peoples participation in the control and management of the economy overall, and individual economic entities specifically.
The conversation about how the socialist economy, and or the transition to socialism will be achieved must start now, and should be reflected in the outlining of concrete and practical steps and plans that envisage how workers democratic ownership, control over, and management of the economy will be achieved.
Given that there is no option on the ballot for the masses, and that the only alternative, which is socialism is not on the ballot; what should the working people and toiling masses do? Should we just fold our hands and give up? Should we cast our lot with the so-called proverbial lesser of the evils on the ballot and support them? Or should we instead organise and mobilise actively to engage these candidates and political parties with our demands, challenge their vision, advocate for our own interests, and seek to compel them to take up and respond to our issues?
14. Given the current scenario, it is certain that regardless of the outcome of the 2023 elections, regardless of who emerges as the winner in the election, given their near universal commitment to and avowal of neo-liberalism, the crisis of Nigeria’s capitalist system will only increase and deepen; whoever wins will be forced to increase the burden of hardships on ordinary working people and toiling masses; and even though the there may be economic growth and GDP may rise, nevertheless, poverty, unemployment, mass misery, insecurity, etc will continue to grow astronomically, and this growth will neither be equitable nor inclusive. The gap between the rich and the poor will further widen; the crisis in public education and public health care delivery will worsen.
In this context, the most empowering approach for the working people and toiling masses, and our movement is to increase the tempo of our mass social organising and mobilisation against intensifying levels of hardships, deepening cost of living crisis, and interminably rising insecurity levels, lay the foundation of a movement that is peopled by the working people, and can act autonomously; and build up the tempo and momentum of resistance such that regardless of the outcome of the elections, our side is strong enough, and the working masses are organised and mobilised, and sufficiently prepared to take on the incoming regime and their anti people policies.
This way, we can ensure the emergence of a mass working peoples political movement, with the autonomous capacity to act, and prepared not only to mobilise and lead mass resistance to capitalist disaster, as well as ready to challenge the ruling class for power, and take political power as prerequisite for establishing workers power, constitute a workers state, and begin to organise and lead the process of Socialist Transformation.
This is the best way not only to ensure our readiness to up the ante of mass popular resistance, but to also ensure that next time around the Socialist Alternative will be on the ballot. As argued repeatedly, a political movement without a clear and concrete program for governance, and that is unable to field as candidates its own members and cadres for elective positions, provide effective leadership for political alliances, including personnel from within its own ranks, is not a movement that is serious about power, and is certainly not a movement that is prepared (or serious about preparing) for the task of taking and utilising power, that is the task of governing.
And since we are currently in the festive season, let me end by saying, Compliments Of The Season.